With folks self-quarantining and social-distancing — and all live music entertainment shut down — I’m putting together a stay-at-home soundtrack for the viral apocalypse until Protoje and the crew buss a livestream on us.
Serious times: Gyptian
Untold Stories: Buju Banton
Guide Over us: Sizzla Kalonji
Any Weather: Vybz Kartel
Hol a Fresh: Red Dragon
Popcaan: Firm and Strong
I Can: Chronixx
Fresh & Clean: Jazz Elise
Babylon: Jane MacGizmo
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I trust and the income goes to keeping the site up and running.
I took the shuttle from Spanish Court Hotel down to Orange Street, Downtown Kingston, otherwise known as “Beat Street” which runs north from the corner of Parade, last Sunday, February 23rd for one of Kingston Creative’s activities in partnership with Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment & Sports, the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation to commemorate Reggae Month.
According to Lonely Planet.com “It’s one of the great wellsprings of Jamaican music and was home to Sir Coxsone Dodd’s legendary Studio One Records, as well as the original studios of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Prince Buster’s famous Record Shack.”
From 1950s to early 70s, ska, rocksteady, reggae, and dub exploded and became a worldwide phenomenon. Record shops and studios monopolized the street and surrounding areas. Beat Street has become an important historical zone that deserves to be preserved and redeveloped as a reggae historical and economic zone.
We walked along the street and it reminded me of my days of living in New York, where they’d have the street festivals with art, food and music. Vendors were selling roast corn, chicken soup, ital stew, roots tonic and beer while murals lined both sides.
The music filled the streets as sound systems, Soultone and Shanghai, played music of the three producers, Clement “Coxson” Dodd, Cecil “Prince Buster” Campbell, and Lee “Scratch” Perry and that of Dennis Brown, who lived at “Big Yard” located at 135 Orange Street.
As we walked, I met Clive Randy Chin, who sat on the corner with a friend. He told me that his father’s studio and record shop called Randy’s Group on North Parade was being honored as a musical heritage site.
He told me that Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis, Toots and The Maytals, Dennis Brown, Lord Fraser and even the Peptones all recorded at his father’s studio on North Parade.
Most record shops haven’t survived the death of vinyl or cds for that matter but he made it clear that he’s still producing music but without the overheads—in his home studio.
The Death of Vinyl
So vinyl records ruled that era but as the years went on analog audio recordings degraded the quality of the music as vinyl records and cassette tapes don’t age very well. Did you ever notice when you played a cassette tape over and over again, it affected the sound quality? If you like to collect vinyl records, here’s a classic by the Crown Prince of Reggae, Dennis Brown, shop here
Nowadays, digital audio recordings are consistently the same sound quality because you can play and copy them endlessly, and they will maintain their original quality forever—unless you manipulate the file, of course.
I had no prior knowledge of Beat Street or its connection to cultivating reggae and dancehall music until I walked into Trevor “Leggo” Douglas’s recording studio, aka LeggoBeast.
His close relative named, “Q”, sat at the sound machines and answered questions about the history of the studio, how it came to be and where it’s going.
We asked, who had recorded there, to which Q answered, “The better question to ask is, who hasn’t?”
Trevor “Leggo” Douglas explained, that every great reggae artist had recorded there from Shaggy to Dennis Brown, with the exception of Bob Marley.
Leggo explained his journey to becoming the owner of the studio, from collecting bottles at dances at 13 to make pocket change, to making cassettes and then migrating to New York to run a robot taxi in order to make enough money to buy the studio equipment and ship them back home.
He then took us to “Big Yard”, the official childhood home of Dennis Brown. In ruin, however around the back was a small room where people who knew him well lived. Dennis Brown was known for taking care of everyone in the community. They are trying to raise money to make it a museum.
We then walked into Rockers International which is the only surviving vinyl record shop in Jamaica. It reminded me of the shops they used to have in HWT, that my brother used to visit on his trips home from Denmark. He would buy the latest records for his sounds system he and his friends ran.
We finished the day at Randy’s Music Group on North Parade where Randy showed all the old equipment that was gathering dust. Old posters decorated the walls and I found a Magnum Tonic Wine calendar from 2015, I had conceptualized with dancehall artist Stacious posing as an Amazonian woman with a bike man underneath, staring up at her.
Dennis Brown Tribute Concert
I headed back downtown in the evening at the Waterfront where Kristia aka @myrepeatoffender was doing an IG takeover on Reggae Month’s page.
Freddie McGregor, Julian Marley, Richie Stephens and so many other amazing artists came down to tribute Dennis Brown’s birthday.
What a great way to end Reggae Month. Can’t wait until next year!
I was invited to be a panelist at the 7th Annual Jamaica Music Conference to discuss the social and Emerging Media for the future of reggae and dancehall music. I was invited because we are currently running an influencer campaign for the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport’s Reggae Month’s activities, highlighting some of the great cultural activities and special events on the schedule.
The panelists were on the new media side: Ari Hammond and Naro Hart, Hosts, of The Fix Podcast on YouTube and representatives of traditional media: Ellen Khoelings and Pete Lilly from the popular German-based reggae magazine, Riddim Magazine. And me, the Founder of Love Not Likes, a blogger/influencer network. Although Love Not Likes is fairly new, I’ve been working in marketing and communications for over a decade and so I’m familiar with both mediums.
It was a great opportunity for me to show that they are also different kinds of non-traditional media platforms like CaribVoxx, KingstonCityLife, Haute People and LuxuryJa, dedicated to creating great local content that can also connect with the Diaspora.
Watch part of the discussion on OnStage’s YouTube channel.
Correction: YouTube is number two, not number the number one social media channel.
ABOUT JAMAICA MUSIC CONFERENCE
This is a sponsored post by The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport for Reggae Month. All reviews and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.
Jamaica Music Conference is the preeminent music conference that connects music artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs globally with the who’s who in the Jamaica music industry. Now in its 7th staging, the JMC provides an opportunity for independent music professionals to network and collaborate with industry peers, seasoned professionals and creatives, showcase emerging talent,and learn best practices and gain insights into the ever-changing business of music, through relevant panel discussions and interactive workshops.
Love Not Likes blogging network I founded recently signed on to help The Ministry of Culture, Entertainment, Gender and Sport to spread the word about Reggae Month in the online space including social media and blogs.
The goal of Reggae Month is to attract international acclaim for Jamaica as the reggae mecca of the world, enhance travel and tourism for the month of February, and provide an educational platform of entertainment for all ages.
One of the bloggers was out of the country and I filled in, so I went to Montego Bay to cover the first Children of the Icons concert held in Sam Sharpe Square. The first thing I have to tell you about these Reggae Month events is that they are all FREE. It’s amazing to see the wonderful talent that exists in this country.
We traveled on the bus with the musicians who were mostly quiet and reflective. When we got to the Square, I was amazed by the set up. The backdrop was the Sam Sharpe Cultural Centre and on the side of the building was Haile Selassie looking down on us.
The acts that came on were Imeru Tafari (Ifrica’s son), Jahbari, Indie Allen (who is slated to be at the Jamaica Rum Festival March 1st, 2020, another great event put on by the Ministry of Tourism) considers himself an emerging artist but I must say he’s now my new favourite. With charisma that of a seasoned performer, his song, ” Catch a Fire” is now fully repeat on the playlist. Another amazing performer was Richie Spice, who energized the crowd. Richie Spice sang all the songs I’d hadn’t heard in years–Earth a Run Red, Brown Skin, Ghetto Girl…all of them!
Richie is the representation of everything Reggae Month represents, the brother of Pliers and has been singing since the 90’s. He’s been traveling around the world, carrying the message of reggae all the while staying true to himself. Giving the same energy that he would have given a crowd of 10,000 people, I was honored to hear his new release, “Together We Stand”.
On 02.02.2020 the first global palindrome day in 909 years, according to CNN.com, The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, the National Gallery of Jamaica (NGJ) and the Jamaica Music Museum along with with La Philharmonie de Paris opened the first of its kind Jamaica, Jamaica!
World Nomad contributor and international travel writer Diedre of http://www.DiedreinWanderland.com was assigned to cover the exhibition as well as the film series for the month. She took over Reggae Month’s IG stories for the day and showed what to expect from the exhibition. Check out http://www.instagram.com/reggaemonthja IG highlights to see an insider’s view of the exhibition.
Initially launched at Philharmonie de Paris in 2017 and titled after the 1985 hit song by Brigadier “The General” Jerry, Jamaica, Jamaica! examines Jamaica has become an extraordinary force in the world heritage and history of music.
From the Afflicted Yard’s photos of Sean Paul, Ninja Man and Vybz Kartel to Peter Tosh’s famed M16 Guitar and the rod that late Prime Minister, Micheal Manley stretched out to the audience as he shared the stage with music icon Bob Marley and late Prime Minister Edward Seaga during the historic “One Love” Peace Concert in Kingston in 1978, the “Jamaica Jamaica Exhibition” features rare memorabilia, photographs, audio-visual clips and art pieces that provides evidence of the potency of how music simultaneously shaped Jamaican culture while impacting world history.
Jamaican music is known world wide yet, its rich history and diversity is often overshadowed by its most famous icon, reggae superstar Bob Marley. This exhibition aims at showcasing a broader vision that has allowed the world to know the island’s music, by digging deep into its past and present in search for the roots of “rebel music”, beyond the cliché and the postcard.
The most ambitious exhibition ever staged on the topic, Jamaica, Jamaica! celebrates the musical innovations born on the island in its specific historic and social contexts, unveiling the story behind the musical genres of kumina, revival, mento, ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub and dancehall – as well as the impact of the local sound system culture, street culture, and visual arts on today’s global pop culture.
You can download the Reggae Month app on the Google Play store and Apple store. There is everything from film series to lectures and concerts. http://www.reggaemonthjamaica.com
The National Gallery of Jamaica opening hours are: Tuesdays -Thursdays: 10 am to 4:30 pm, Fridays: 10 am to 4 pm, Saturdays: 10 am to 3 pm, Last Sundays: the NGJ is open every last Sunday of the month, 11 am to 4 pm. Closed to the public on the other Sundays and on Mondays and Public Holidays (Offices are open on Mondays)
The NGJ is also occasionally open on Sundays and evenings for exhibition openings and special programmes – for more information, please visit their blog regularly.
In 2006, long before the term “influencer” was coined, I started a t-shirt line called Sprawl Tees. One of the tactics used was to invite people of influence to “rep” the brand. Everyone from musicians to socialites helped us reach thousands of people from as far as Japan. With Sprawl, I developed the brand’s story which was focused on the young, fun, hipster side of Jamaica. As a formally trained graphic designer, I designed every t-shirt. I also developed distribution lines in key areas: Kingston, Mobay and Negril. I sold online to the US, Canada and Europe.If you want to take a trip down memory lane, go here.
What is Love Not Likes?
Fast forward to present day, I launched Love Not Likes six months ago and the impact has been amazing. What is Love Not Likes? An micro-influencer/blogger-centric experiential marketing agency. We create curated experiences for YouTubers, content creators, bloggers and micro-influencers. Just for clarity, for those who aren’t familiar with the different definitions: Content creators are people who take pictures and videos, where as bloggers are those who have a website with articles but may also use imagery. Some have both photos and video, but not always. YouTubers exclusively create video content.
We’re all about inclusivity, meaning, anyone can join and be a part of the community as long as they have at least 1,000 followers. We’re a diverse group from all different niches and backgrounds, ranging from travel to beauty and lifestyle. If you want to join our community, sign up for our mailing list here.
So far, we’ve been to Monkey Island/Frenchman’s Cove and Worthy Park Estate Rum Tour. We’ve also been invited to cover events such as Kingston Creative’s ArtWalk, the opening of Gloria’s Seafood in Ocho Rios and KIG’s Jeep Wrangler Launch.
Some of the brands we’ve worked with include CPJ (Lifespan, Glinter and Energice), Those Creative People, Worthy Park Estate Rum Tour, Worthy Park, Rum Bar, Herboo Botanical, National Bakery, The Label Snob, Cafe Dolce, Oak Wine Cocktail Lounge, Sun Factory which distributes Ipanema flip flops and Grant Foster sunglasses.
Here’s what TCP had to say about working with us:
“We were looking for some great content for our social media marketing efforts, without having to do it ourselves (arrange a photoshoot, get all the talent, etc.).
LoveNotLikes helped us get great content with a variety of locations, talent and content ideas, to use without us lifting a finger.” – Marc Gayle, TCP
Here’s what full-time travel blogger Jhunelle J of simplylocal.life had to say about working with us: Through Love Not Likes, I’ve met and enjoyed the company of multiple fellow content creators. Mixing work and play has enhanced the experiences offered, while providing valuable opportunities to work directly with both established and upcoming brands
I’ve always wanted to work with brands on social media ever since I was motivated to start a blog in 2019. Love Not Likes gave me not only my first few brand collaborations but also community where I could learn and network with other bloggers who are inspiring and hardworking. Tahjaera of livingtheMacLife.blog
I am so happy I found this group. I met some wonderful people in similar fields and it’s been a pleasure learning about them and their journey. I also enjoy working with the brands that are affiliated with Love Not Likes. I am excited for what the future holds and other amazing trips with Love Not Likes. SueTanya Mchorgh, blogger
What is a Micro-Influencer?
We’ve helped micro-influencers, ( micro-influencers are anywhere from 100,000 to 1,000 followers) mostly under 5,000 followers, to create content for their blogs and IG pages, grow their following as well as help them connect with brands. These brands in turn have shared the content and tagged the influencers, helping them to raise their profile and followers.
In the age of the saturated influencer market in Jamaica, it’s important to establish that there are alternatives. Why pick micro-influencers to showcase your brand? Micro-Influencers offer more credibility, they’re more likely to respond and interact with their followers and guess what…build a community!
Going with a larger influencer or endorser can cost you thousands, just for one post.
So, unless you are a huge brand, that just may not be realistic or worthwhile.
A micro-influencer is much more affordable. It all depends on the number of followers and engagement.
With Instagram removing the likes button, the metrics will now be focused on shares and engagement, and ultimately conversions/sales. Bloggers also help search engine optimization and can be a permanent link to your website.
If you’re interested in partnering with us, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow us on IG here.
I’ve been working in advertising for over 15 years, and as someone who used “influencers” (there wasn’t a name for it at the time) to sell t-shirts online for 2 years, I understand the value of an influencer.
The community is small is in Jamaica, totaling about 20-30 major influencers made up of mostly comedians, lifestyle, beauty and public figure categories.
I was nominated as a People to Watch in 2019, by Kadia Francis, aka the Digital Jamaican who scoured the internet to find micro-influencers and bloggers who write mostly for the love of it and not necessarily the recognition. A micro-influencer tends to have less than 10,000 followers but usually has an intimate community. ( I listed using micro-influencers as one of the 2019 trends in social media. Read here)
We wanted to bring everyone together to bond and network. Most of the people had the same wish–to create content (whether that be in the form of writing, taking photos or making videos, etc), and being able to travel the world while doing so.
The bloggers paid for their transportation and lunch but received reposts and comments from the sponsors, edited photos from established photographers including Machel Witter, Peter Clarke and Darren George (contracted by our partners Ion Communications), to gather content on their behalf. We were even featured on CVM Sunrise. See the full interview below.
So the most burning questions from this experience have been, why call it Love Not Likes? In April 2019, Instagram put out that they were working on changing the platform to eliminate likes, you can read the Forbes article here.
Also, as I said earlier, many of these bloggers do it because they love what they do—sharing their go-to spots in Jamaica, or their beauty secrets, etc. However, they’ve never received corporate sponsorship or even gifted merchandise.
The list of the bloggers/micro-influencers/YouTubers who attended were:
Jhunelle Jureidini: a full-time travel blogger who finds most of the unknown places in Jamaica and highlights them.
Sue-Tanya McHorgh: a website developer and lifestyle blogger who also has an online clothing store.
Diedre McLeod: A travel blogger who teaches travelers how to travel the world on a budget.
Lucienne Antonio: A blogger who also can secure your next budget vacation.
Kemar Royal: a content creator/droner who lives for adventure
Ronnia Cherry, a creative with multiple interests, all surrounding creating a platform for Jamaican creatives. Learn more about her
Tashi Grant: A media maven who started her lifestyle/travel blog called The Hopper
Rachael Campbell: a travel vlogger who likes to party.
Jehmeil Shrouder: a YouTuber on a mission to be successful.
Ornella Green: A lifestyle/beauty blogger who aspires to travel the world.
So I wanted to make them feel special, i.e. find a way to show them and the world, that micro-influencers have value. Many influencers only big up a brand because they are getting paid, which sometimes loses its authenticity.
So let’s even get more pedantic, people think influencer is a dirty/bad word. What is an influencer, really?
An influencer is an individual who’s capable of affecting (i.e., influencing) people’s purchase decisions because of his/her knowledge or authority. What’s more, this individual has a following – usually on social media – in a specific niche, such as fashion, food, fitness, photography, and so on. YouTube marketing is also quite common.
According to influencer marketing research, many companies will hire brand ambassadors to promote their products. While the most visible brand ambassadors are celebrity influencers, micro-bloggers can often get in on the action, too – they increase a brand’s visibility more locally. Another sponsored content format consists of paid for articles and blogs, which appear as editorials in an online publication.
So now we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the alignment with the government’s growth strategy. Chris Dehring spoke at the Jamaica Diaspora Conference a couple of months ago and he talked about the importance of creating alternative job opportunities for young people.
The insights that came out of the trip was that most of them want to live a digital nomad lifestyle. It seems pretty simple, but when you live on an island, you tend to only think about Jamaica and even some think smaller–only Kingston and St. Andrew.
Our aim is to create a network and community with bloggers/micro-influencers who want to monetize. We’ve invited Lauren Dunn, otherwise known as Lauren O Lauren to give a masterclass at CoWork on Thursday, July 18th. Lauren has been working in Silicon Valley and has been able to grow her following and monetize for the last few years. Please call 876 881-7830 to purchase tickets.
We’re also building a community of bloggers, content creators, photographers who want to collaborate. Please follow @lovenotlikesja on Instagram or email us at email@example.com for more information.
Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of being invited to Kingston Creative’s Artwalk. We decided to partner with them for a Love Not Likes excursion. For those who don’t know, Love Not Likes is an experiential marketing agency that creates curated experiences for photographers, bloggers and creatives who want to network and collaborate.
Andrea Dempster-Chung, the co-founder of the Kingston Creative movement gave us a tour and spoke about the importance to gaining support from all areas of society, including creatives.
When Andrea posed the question about how do we engage corporate, we decided that the best way was to show in a real way, not through PR or posed photographs but invite bloggers and content creators to come and enjoy the experience.
It was a lovely day, particularly because we were especially invited for lunch by FNB’s Downtown, a Jamaican fusion restaurant that houses Swiss Stores and is a gallery for resident-artist Craig Phang-Sang. They are known for their famous oxtail. This is a must-have when visiting Downtown Kingston. It was also a refuge for us during the summer heat as we were treated with freshly squeezed lemonade..
We also experienced a pop-up version of The Edna Manley Final Year exhibition, curated by National Gallery’s former director, Veerle Poupeye.
Resonances features six young artists: Trishaunna Henry (BFA Sculpture), Joni P. Gordon (BFA Photography), Leanne Mair (BFA Painting), Yulanah Mullings (BFA Painting), Mark Robinson (BFA Painting), and Keisha Walters (BFA Painting). They work in media ranging from ceramic and aluminium to wood, paper and cardboard constructions, to paper and textile collage, and ranges from miniature scale to very large. Each of the six artists makes use of the resonant potential of the object and the image to speak about more than itself and to invoke stories about social, cultural and historical subjects as diverse as the experience of the Jamaican urban environment and the car culture; the personal traumas of racism, migrant work and childhood sexual abuse; the dilemmas of genetic engineering; and the historical and contemporary cultural significance of shoes.
The exhibition is curated by Veerle Poupeye, an art historian specialized in Caribbean art and an independent curator and writer. Dr. Poupeye is also a lecturer at the Edna Manley College.
Best part of the day, was actually getting to hang out with Charl B. The artist behind the mural, “The Tree of Life,” located behind FNB’s Downtown, off Harbour Street. There are several on the street and we took time to take them all in.
Kingston Creative has a seven year plan to create an arts district where creatives can share workspace, network and collaborate. The long term plan is create a place similar to Wynwood in Miami but they need funding to make it happen. It seems like creating an eco-system where creatives can thrive and companies can get visibility in a heavy foot traffic area seems a good fit.
The brands that have already come on board include Red Stripe, Jamaica Observer, Jamaica Gleaner, Facey Foundation, Paperboy Jamaica and others. If you would like a mural, it can be arranged, I’m here trying to figure out how I can get one myself.
The buzz was alive this year for International Women’s Day as people were eager to share their thoughts on this year’s theme #BalanceForBetter. Some people acknowledged the true meaning of gender balance but others had their own agenda. Here are my top picks for IG posts for International Women’s Day:
Were there any International Women’s Day posts that you thought were really creative and fitting? Send me the link.
I want to make a better world for the generation that’s coming up, to promote love and peace, and even though I’m young, I feel that the Creator has blessed me with talent and wisdom to get the job done.”
These are the words of Mikayla Simpson, an 18-year-old artist known to many as “Koffee”. Through her music, Koffee has an unwavering mission to empower the youths of her generation as well as to preserve the roots and culture of Jamaica.
One thing that made everyone want to know Koffee was her hit single ‘Toast’. It blew up at the end of 2018 as it was as everyone’s Instagram caption, playing all over the radio and “breaking the internet.”
2.Full of Sauce Like Bake Bean
Fresh, breezy, a so me stay, clean
Gyal dem love mi foot inna mi straight jeans
Me full of sauce like baked beans
No underage, over 18
Cologne make your gyal a daydream
3.No Gyal Can See Mi and Cause Problem
In 2018, this was the third most popular IG caption in Jamaica. The line is from Shenseea’s song called Shenyeng anthem. A song dedicated to her 2 million followers and fans around the world.
4.Steam Fish and Okra Body
And IG caption made popular by none other than ZJ Sparks, aka Sparkiebaby.